Steve Spatafore / Las Vegas News Bureau
Monday, May 12, 2014 | 11:57 p.m.
No fewer than eight of the world’s best-known chefs presented Master Series Dinners to kick off the 2014 Vegas Uncork’d food-and-wine festival Thursday evening. Only in Las Vegas could you find such stunning stars all under the same roof. These are the celebrity chefs, the kings and a queen of cuisine at Caesars Palace who dazzle daily in their culinary circles.
Fans and foodies stood in line for hours to be wowed by Bobby Flay and
Giada De Laurentiis. In a twist, she cooked stuffed lamb chops with walnut gremolata, and he served steamed halibut in fennel-saffron broth. But it was her pasta perfecto, pea pesto agnolotti, that KO’d diners. Giada also stunned with crostino with tomato and strawberry jam, feta cheese and mint.
Giada playfully teased Bobby at his Mesa Grill as she put up her fists in fun: “I need to give Bobby a run for his money after he’s owned the place for 10 years. Time for me to jump in the pool.” And then they hugged for our photo gallery!
Down the hallway, it was more authentic, old-style Italian at Rao’s, where Frank Pellegrino Jr., his family and co-owner and cousin Ron Straci served a multi-course extravaganza. The southern Neapolitan dishes served family-style included beef carpaccio and herb gnocchi. They did double duty closing Vegas Uncork’d with Mother’s Day brunch Sunday serving shrimp oreganata skewers, lemon chicken brochette, Cornish game hen Scarpariello and pineapple upside-down cake.
Then it was onto another part of Europe with Francois Payard’s pastries and savory hometown Parisian fare at his Bistro & Patisserie. He’d flown in for a taste of the French capital to serve short ribs in beer and pan-seared halibut.
Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Guy Savoy created an exclusive multi-course dinner with wine pairings. Six lucky diners of the group sat at the only Krug Chef’s Table in America sipping elegant Krug champagne. Guy prepared the magnificent menu right in front of them: lobster in cold potage with spring colors, black pepper black cod and red beans and his world-famous artichoke and black truffle soup with toasted mushroom brioche and black truffle butter.
Steak connoisseurs were in seventh heaven at chef Greg Sherry’s culinary kingdom Old Homestead Steakhouse. His hearty, oversized portions of timeless steakhouse-style dishes astonished guests marveling at their size and taste.
Directly opposite in Nobu restaurant of his Nobu hotel, chef Nobu Matsuhisa started his intimate seven-course meal with yellowtail tartare and Nobu Daiginjo Sake. He brought out the largest bottle of it I’ve ever seen as we somehow managed to do our interview over sashimi and shots. He followed that by serving salmon kelp roll with tuna crispy rice, then a fluke spinach salad, Chilean sea bass, braised short ribs, four sushi and five mini desserts.
All were perfection personified, and all proved that this man is a genius. Nobu returned the next day to host an innovative sushi-making seminar where he fused classic techniques with unexpected ingredients. During the interactive culinary experience, the guest “students” sampled generous shots of sake, so I can’t tell you how much they remembered learning how to make an all-star bowl of handmade ramen.
Television’s often-fiery and controversial chef Gordon Ramsay hosted a once-in-a-lifetime menu at his Pub & Grill. He served signature flavors in dishes that included herb Caesar salad, pan-seared diver scallops, grilled Colorado lamb rack with roasted eggplant and sticky toffee pudding with sweet cream ice cream.
The highlight, of course, is an old English favorite of ours: mini steak and ale pie of beer braised beef, mushrooms and pastry in Brooklyn East India pale ale. And there was a bonus Masters Series Dinner shared by chef Pierre Gagnaire of Twist at Mandarin Oriental and Shawn McClain of Sage and Five 50 Pizzeria at Aria.
Our thanks to Erik Kabik of Retna and Steve Spatafore of Las Vegas News Bureau for their photo galleries of the Master Series Dinners.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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Transport yourself to the opulent and excessive Roman Empire at Caesars Palace. But the ever-changing Caesars Palace is far from ancient. The hotel and casino is constantly raising the bar for what visitors can expect in a Vegas resort experience.
Caesars Palace features 3,348 rooms and suites in five towers, including the new luxury boutique Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, which opened Feb. 4, 2013, in the totally remodeled Centurian Tower. Caesars features 129,000 square feet of gaming space, including the Strip’s largest poker room and a 250-seat sports book. Other amenities include about two dozen restaurants, a four-level shopping mall, four pools, a spa, Pure and Poetry nightclubs and Pussycat Dolls.
Dining options include restaurants from world-renown chefs Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay and, on Feb. 4, 2013, Nobu Matsuhisa.
You never know what characters you’ll run into at Caesars with regular performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Bette Midler, Elton John and maybe even the emperor himself.